If we look around and try to pick a few materials with the most widespread use in various applications, then one of them would surely be ‘plastic.’ The wide range of synthetic materials use polymer is the key ingredient and can be molded and shaped numerous shapes.
The versatility, durability, and flexible use of plastic have been known for ages, but it has also been known to cause water, air, and soil pollution. However, advancement in technology has led to the sustainable use of plastics.
The Current Position of Plastic Industry
Injection molding machines have been a fundamental component of numerous industries and manufacture plastic for various applications.
The modern-day plastic manufacturing segment is categorized according to particular type and application, and include Injection molding machines, extrusion machines, blow molding machines, 3D (Three Dimension) plastic printing machines, and thermoforming machines.
Plastic has a diversified and widespread use in various market segments that include packaging, construction, automotive, and a huge variety of consumer products.
The huge strides in custom packaging have led to exponential use of plastic in making custom packaged boxes for different commercial purposes. According to statistics, the plastic manufacturing industry has been said to register nearly $32 billion in 2020 and grow to more than $40 billion by 2026.
The staggering growth of plastic molding machines is due to the manufacturing of numerous products and accessories that include mobile phones, auto parts, displays, optical lenses, biomedical products, connectors, and electronic products.
The growing demand and diversification of plastic products mean that the plastic molding processing industry will grow tremendously in the coming years. Plastic, as compared to wood, metals, and stones, seems to have the advantages of being low cost and easily affordable. According to Plastics Europe (PEMRG), plastic production across the world until 2018 was estimated at 360 million metric tons and growing steadily.
The Importance of Injection Molding Process in Plastic Manufacturing
There are many different plastic manufacturing techniques, but ‘injection molding’ seems to be the most popular and efficient method that provides plastic products for various industrial and commercial applications. The plastic manufacturing machine in Miami has many advanced features to deliver cost-effective and efficient plastic products.
The injection molding machine is mostly known as a plastic manufacturing machine, but plastic is also made from extrusion machines, blow molding machines, and 3D printing machines. The increase in demand for plastic-making machines is mostly due to huge demand and the rise of custom packaged boxes for different industries such as consumer goods, food and beverage, cosmetic products, and electronics.
The custom made plastic boxes are known to keep the items safe during transportation and prevent exposure to environmental conditions. The injection molding machines have become advanced to meet the growing demand and innovative customizations. Both electrical and hydraulic power supply operates the machines.
The injection molding machines come in different designs, such as two-color injection machines, vertical injection machines, rotary, and horizontal injection machines. With time, the manufacturers are trying to modernize the machines to allow the production of numerous plastic products in varying styles and sizes.
The Impact of Covid-19 on Plastic Manufacturing
The demand for injection molding machines has increased in the packaging and healthcare sector, but the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has disturbed the regular workflow due to the closure of industries in the wake of the virus.
Apart from the workforce shortage due to the Covid-19 outbreak, plastic manufacturing also had to face challenges of meeting the quality of standards of many plastic products. Providing the best and reliable quality depends on a significant amount of effort, time, and resources.
To solve the problems and growing challenges, the manufacturing companies have decided to modernize the process by implementing smart technologies within the plastic manufacturing machines. The internet of things or more popularly known as IoT, has revolutionized the injection molding machine and allowed the production and delivery of customized plastic products with improved quality and reduced costs.
The future is automating the process that can help meet the demand and expectations of business clients and industries. The packaging and automobile industries will expand, which will result in the need for robust and efficient molding machines.
The Factors to Consider in Plastic Manufacturing
The injection molding machine can shape a variety of products that can be extracted from plastic, ceramic, metal, and other raw materials. The plastic products made from the injection molding process tend to be lightweight, durable, flexible, sturdy, and reliable. The factors that need to be considered when selecting a manufacturing process of a plastic product are
- Form Factor
The form factor reflects the complex or complicated internal features of the object. The production may be limited and needs to be optimized according to the complexity and geometry of the design.
- Volume and Cost
The total volume of the plastic parts or objects to be processed is necessary to know the total cost. Some of the parts may require a high cost of operations but may only be limited in quantity. The low-cost parts tend to be cost-effective, but the cost may increase if the volume increases.
The quality of the material matters as there are lots of stresses and strain as the material is processed in the injection molding machine. The cost and aesthetic quality of the material should be considered.
- Lead Time
The time required for the finished product to be made critical in the plastic manufacturing process. Some of the plastic parts are quickly formed, while tooling and setup costs for some of the complex parts increase lead time.
Plastics come in numerous types, but the most common is ‘thermoplastics’ where the material goes through a heating, melting, and solidification process without getting degraded. Thermoplastics come in small sheets or pellets and then processed into different shapes and sizes. Some of the popular thermoplastics are Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), Polycarbonate, Acrylic, Polylactic acid, and polypropylene.
The thermoplastics, thermosetting plastics are also common and popular and include epoxy, polyester, silicone, and polyurethane. The injection molding process consists of four stages that are mold setup, plastic extrusion, molding, cooling and release, and post-processing.
The injection molding process involves high temperatures, and pressures and the costs could rise depending on the complexity of the design and volume of plastic parts to be produced.